By John Lynds
The community is mourning the loss of longtime community member and one of the most recognizable faces in East Boston.
Joseph Guarino who, outside of his career as a newspaper man, dedicated his life to St. Joseph St. Lazarus Church, the Golden Age Club and other Eastie civic organizations where he was a regular fixture during their community events alongside his longtime wife, Eleanor, died on Saturday, February 12 surrounded by his family following a brief illness at age 75.
Mr. Guarino was born and raised in East Boston and attended St Lazarus School. He graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in the North End. Throughout his teen years, Mr. Guarino was an avid athlete and was one of the ‘stickball kids’ on Leyden Street where he was always practicing batting with a stick and a half ball.
After high school, Mr. Guarino joined the U.S. Army with his longtime friend Andy Mattaliano.
After being discharged from the Army he lived in Brattleboro, Vermont to learn the newspaper trade and later went on to work at the Boston Globe’s Composing Room as a printer for 41 years. He was the Chairman of the Comp Room and became Vice President of the Boston Typographical Union. When the Globe was purchased by the New York Times he was one of the chief negotiators representing the Comps with President Henry Vitale Sr.
At the Globe he joined the newspaper’s Baseball team, and was able to pursue his lifelong passion for baseball.
“He was a true athlete and loved baseball,” said his wife, Eleanor. “He was inducted into their Hall Of Fame for having the highest batting average in the team’s 50 year history.”
Mr. Guarino was presented with a plaque commemorating his Globe baseball team achievements. He played in tournaments throughout the country playing in major league ballparks like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field as a semi-professional player.
“He also played for the local Park Leagues at various parks in the Boston area,” said his wife.
At one point Mr. Guarino tried out for the Major Leagues during spring training in Florida.
“It was tough to compete with kids who played all year from the warmer states.” said Eleanor. “He was told he had a major league bat but to go home and get a job and play baseball whenever he could.”
Throughout his life, Mr. Guarino stayed physically fit and ran 20 miles a week until he developed a heart condition and could no longer run. “So he walked Revere Beach every mornings at 5:30 a.m. before work and joined the Cardiac Rehab Maintenance program at Spaulding in Boston,” said Eleanor.
Aside from his career and love for baseball he was dedicated to many Eastie organizations.
He served as head usher at the early Sunday mass and was the Vice President of The Courageous Generation Group where he read the Bingo numbers at St. Joseph-St. Lazarus Church. He served as the Chaplain and Trustee for The Order Sons of Italy in America at the East Boston Sempre Avanti Lodge#1600. He was the chairman for their annual Christmas Party.
He was also a longtime member and volunteer at the Golden Age Club and a friend to the late MaryAnn Cerundolo and Mary Scolastico.
For 50 years Mr. Guarino belonged to the St Lazarus-St John Bowling League–winning several high average plaques.
“He was the League Treasurer,” said Eleanor.
In January of this year he had a medical event at the Central Park Lanes while bowling. Fellow teammate, Alex Leone saved his life administering lifesaving CPR.
“He was an in-patient at Mass General Hospital since January 5, first in ICU where an amazing team of nurses and doctors cared for him daily,” said Eleanor. “Recently he was transferred to the Cardiac Interventional Unit in Ellison Building at the hospital. Joe was a fighter and was determined to get better to go home to East Boston.”
Eleanor stayed at the hospital by his side day and night during the months of January and February to help Mr. Guarino with his daily challenges. Like all the community events they attended together over the years, in Mr. Guarino’s time of sickness they were inseparable.
Mr. and Mrs. Guarino met in Falmouth Cape Cod and were blessed in their marriage, totally devoted to one another and enjoyed life together during 35 years of marriage.
It was the little things that Mr. Guarino did that not many people knew about that made his wife and family proud.
“When East Boston High recently won the Superbowl Championship, Joe sponsored and purchased a football ring for one of the players. He frequently purchased groceries to bring to the Grace Church on Saturday mornings, he was committed to doing good in his East Boston neighborhood,” said Eleanor.